Eric Clapton – Another Ticket

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout
  • Both sides here are clean, clear and super spacious with a punchy bottom end and lots of big rock energy
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout with both sides playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “The first and last Clapton studio album to feature his all-British band of the early ’80s, it gave considerable prominence to second guitarist Albert Lee and especially to keyboard player/singer Gary Brooker (formerly leader of Procol Harum), and they gave it more of a blues-rock feel than the country-funk brewed up by the Tulsa shuffle crew Clapton had used throughout the 1970s.”

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Miles Davis – Nefertiti

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Columbia 360 Label pressing has excellent sound on both sides and unusually quiet vinyl throughout. The music is wonderful too — Miles and his late ’60s quintet featuring Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams are all in top form here, slowly working their way towards the electric fusion sounds that would be coming shortly. Many copies lack the kind of transparency and clarity you need to make sense of what each player is doing, but this Super Hot pressing gives you those qualities on both sides. (more…)

America’s Greatest Hits

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  • An outstanding copy of America’s 1975 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • Both sides have amazing clarity and presence, which is especially noticeable on the vocals
  • THE BIG SOUND on both sides lets this Greatest Hits compilation hold its own against the originals
  • “An essential collection for fans who like their ’70s folk with a pop sheen, loads of hooks, and top-drawer arrangements.”

THE BIG SOUND on both sides lets this Greatest Hits compilation hold its own against the originals. They have plenty of bottom end that drives these songs with energy and life. Listen for the bells on ‘Tin Man’; they have the correct transients and harmonics. You never quite get back all of the tubey magic of the originals, but the detail and richness are enough to make you fall in love with this high quality George Martin (re) production. 

Is That A Master Tape In Your Pocket… ?

If we didn’t know better we’d say this had Master Tape Sound, something we wouldn’t normally say about a compilation album. But wait just a minute — it IS Master Tape Sound! George Martin remixed the original multitracks, creating a new master mix in the process. The double tracked vocals on ‘Ventura Highway’ are an obvious indicator of the difference between this and the original. (more…)

T.Rex – The Slider

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  • Insanely good sound throughout this early UK pressing with each side rating a Triple Plus (A+++) or very close to it – quiet vinyl too
  • These sides were bigger, richer and livelier, with more bass, energy and Tubey Magic than the other copies we played (which is why this copy won the shootout)
  • Even the best domestic pressings always sounded dubby to us – we gave up playing them years ago
  • 5 stars: “The Slider essentially replicates all the virtues of Electric Warrior, crammed with effortless hooks and trashy fun. All of Bolan’s signatures are here – mystical folk-tinged ballads, overt sexual come-ons crooned over sleazy, bopping boogies, loopy nonsense poetry, and a mastery of the three-minute pop song form.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good a 1972 All Tube Analog recording can sound, this killer copy will do the trick. (To be honest, since I do not know what equipment was being used in the many studios this album was recorded in, better to say that this is what, to our ears, sounds like all tube analog sound.) With Tony Visconti in the studio the sound has much in common with another Glam Rock Masterpiece from the same year, Ziggy Stardust. (more…)

Oscar Peterson & Nelson Riddle

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  • Peterson and Riddle’s 1963 collaboration finally arrives on the site with stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • With a lively and present piano, and a smooth, full sounding orchestra, this is just the right sound for this music
  • “From the opening flutes to the last flush of piano and orchestra, this is smooth-swinging jazz par excellence.”
  • 4 stars: “… a quietly strong, rich, fully evocative set of great tracks that emphasize the undercurrent rather than the overflow of emotions.”

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These vintage Verve pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here. (more…)

Harry Nilsson – Pussy Cats

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  • A superb sounding copy with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish; exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are incredibly rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical yet still clean, clear, open and spacious
  • Produced by John Lennon, Nilsson’s partner in crime, it’s a really fun album, with an appealingly ragged and spontaneous vibe
  • “It may not be as wild as the lost weekend itself, but it couldn’t have been recorded at any other time and remains a fascinating aural snapshot of the early days of 1974.” – All Music

The soundstage is huge and open, there’s some real richness and body to the vocals and, perhaps most importantly, you get all the energy and presence required to bring this wild album to life.

John Lennon and Harry Nilsson were notorious partiers during Lennon’s “lost weekend” away from Yoko, and the album basically plays like all that excess playing out in the studio. The vibe is loose and spontaneous, and Nilsson’s voice is at its most ragged. That looseness and raggedness results in some startlingly emotional peaks — Many Rivers To Cross and Don’t Forget Me are positively spine-tingling — and some good-natured romps through classic covers like Subterranean Homesick Blues and Rock Around The Clock. It’s a whole lot of fun — especially when you have a copy that sounds like this! (more…)

Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee – Sonny and Brownie

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  • With superb Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER on both sides, so natural and relaxed – this is the right sound for this bluesy music – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This early pressing puts a Folk Blues jam from 1973 live in your living room, showcasing two of the true masters of the form
  • The immediacy, clarity and transparency are excellent, but the key element is Tubey Magical warmth, and these vintage pressings have plenty of it
  • “John Mayall and John Hammond, Jr. are among the “youngsters” on this powerful statement that includes a definitive version of Randy Newman’s wickedly subtle anti-slavery tune Sail Away.”

This is easily one of better Folkie Blues albums to hit our table in a while. The music is SUPERB. Among the highlights are great covers of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” and Randy Newman’s “Sail Away.” (more…)

Beethoven / Symphonies 8 & 9 – Giulini – Reviewed in 2005

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

SLS 841. Two fairly quiet (for EMI anyway) LPs with BIG SOUND — the kind of sound this work demands. This is obviously a huge orchestra and chorus. It sure sounds like it anyway. The production is first class all the way. The soloists sound particularly real, surrounded by dozens of other musicians in a big hall. I like the way Giulini plays this as well.

 

Letter of the Week – What Were Once Vices, Countdown to Ecstasy, Tapestry, Sweet Baby James, McCartney, Houses of the Holy and The Nightfly

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

As a new comer to your business, and to the entire concept of “Hot Stamper” records, I was naturally skeptical. Many of us have invested in a wide variety of vinyl that simple failed to live up to expectations. Initially I was going to order one and only one record from you, and test your bold promises. Instead, I ended up ordering a nice variety to truly put it to the test… investing a couple thousand dollars on faith. In short, I am now your customer for life.

As a point of reference, my system includes a pair of Wilson Audio Alexia powered by 2 mono-block McIntosh tube Amps and a Mc-tube preamp. Most importantly, a Brinkmann mag drive turntable with a Sumiko low output moving coil cartridge. So, not the world’s best system, but enough to discern what is to follow.

I ordered the following:
* Carole King Tapestry, ((White Hot Pressing)
* The Doobie Brothers, What Were Once Vices (White Hot Pressing)
* James Taylor, Sweet Baby James (White Hot Pressing)
* Paul McCartney, McCartney (Super Hot Pressing)
* Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy (Super Hot Pressing)
* Steely Dan, Countdown to Ecstasy (Super Hot Pressing)
* Donald Fagen, The Nightfly (White Hot Pressing)

I warmed up my amps with the tuner for an hour or so and then sat and listened to some of my other records and reacquainted myself with the music from my system. First up was “What Were Once Vices…”. It was immediately apparent that I was getting a range as wide, if not wider than anything I had ever heard from my stereo. Then when I got to the last song on side one, “Road Angel” the guitar and drum interplay in the instrumental jam completely blew me away. Midway through I took the volume from loud to louder, and it exposed nothing but pure, sweet rock and roll. Literally gave me goose bumps.

I then listened to “Countdown to Ecstasy” and in this instance I owe a clean original copy, so I put it to the test. Back to back. I did not have to go past “Bodhisattva” to know it was no-contest. If I had to apply a percentage, something like 20% more music comes from the Hot Stamper, and this (like all of my orders) is one of my all time favorite albums. (more…)